November Nouveau: Respectful Reel Review #22 — It Follows (2014)

MOVIE TITLE:

It Follows

IMDB YEAR RELEASED:

2014

GENRE:

Supernatural / Psychological Horror

STARRING:

Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Bailey Spry, Debbie Williams, Leisa Pulido

DIRECTED BY:

David Robert Mitchell

SUMMARY:

After a sexual encounter, a young woman finds that she is haunted by dark visions where she is pursued by a supernatural force looking to somehow possess her.

TAGLINE:
It doesn’t think. It doesn’t feel. It doesn’t give up.

PLOT:

The movie begins with a young woman running out of her house incompletely dressed in nightclothes. She rushes to her car, and tears away from the curb toward the beach where she tearfully appears to be giving her father a farewell, “I love you.” Fade out, then an explosive break of dawn shot and the beach where the young woman’s broken body is revealed.

The protagonist is Jaime “Jay” Height who is a pretty typical college student. She has recently begun a relationship with a guy named Hugh. While at the movies, they are playing a people watching game and when Hugh points out a young woman in the back of the theatre, Jay says she cannot see the girl. Her insistence that she does not see the girl, freaks Hugh out. He asks her to leave with him, and they do.

During subsequent dates the audience sees when the couple eventually become intimate in his car. As Jay basks in the afterglow, Hugh takes a chloroform rag and presses it to her face. She awakens tied to a wheelchair. She is naturally terrified by her predicament, but is only further horrified by Hugh’s attempt at explaining what has happened.

Hugh communicates that he has passed through intercourse a type of curse, where a supernatural organism will perpetually approach her location no matter where she is in a disembodied form that only she can see. If it catches her, then it will kill her then continue down the line to the previous person to pass it on. That is why it behooves her to pass it on as quickly as possible. Hugh says that he knows he has done a wrong but that by telling her, he feels he is doing a right.

Jay does not believe Hugh until a naked woman approaches the derelict underpass where Jay is tied to the wheelchair. Hugh tells her that he tied her to the chair because he knew she would not believe unless she witnessed the entity for herself. Jay still has a difficult time with it even when Hugh drops her off in front of her house, injured and dressed in her underwear.

In subsequent days the police spend time looking for both the naked old lady and Hugh whom they feel has hurt Jay and actually abducted her. Hugh is not the man’s name, the police say; it was made-up and the house he was living in is also fake. While at school, Jay witnesses another old lady, this one wearing a hospital gown, invisible to everyone else approach her. Again, she flees.

Enlisting the aid of her sister, Kelly, and a group of close friends, Paul and Yara, they decide to stay the night at Jay and Kelly’s house. When the sound of a breaking window wakes the group, Paul investigates and sees no one, Jay sees a half-naked woman just inches from Paul. She runs up the stairs to her room where Yara and Kelly wait. When a tall man walks out of the shadows and into the bedroom, Jay flees again.

With the help of an older teen, their neighbor Greg, they investigate the house that Jay thought was Hugh’s home and find out that Hugh is really Jeff Redmond, a high school student from the other side of town. Jeff repeats to Jay and the others what he told her before. Because Greg and Jay had previously slept together, he offers to sleep with her again in order to pass the curse to him and that he would sleep with someone else. That does not go as planned, but I will leave the plot here in order to avoid spoilers.

REVIEW:

It Follows is a unique film that firmly situates the protagonist in a nightmare world where her sexuality is the gateway to the horrific danger of an unrelenting pursuer, but in a dichotomous way the sexual act also serves to be the instrument of her salvation. At play here is the conscientious consideration that recognizes that by passing on the curse, she is possibly hurting someone else without alerting them to the dangers of their intercourse.

Although this movie is riddled with symbolism both shallow and profound, I watched this movie because it is a horror movie. I wanted to be scared. Did it do that? Oh, absolutely, it did. The creeping, plodding thing that pursues incessantly with various guises to get as close as possible before it kills you is unrelenting. It is a chameleon. How do you rest, when your friends can not see it? How do you sleep, when you know that the thing that follows could find you while you sleep?

This movie had a relatively small budget of $1.3 million. It was shown at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it found an independent film distributer. It was released in a few theatres first, but with word-of-mouth acclaim by critics it has grossed 23 million plus. Sure, the symbolism makes this a tale of warning, but it also is a tale of sexual empowerment.

I think the horror elements work very well. There’s a part of the movie, (no spoiler warning needed) where Jay is pursued at the beach. All of her friends are with her despite the fact that they do not believe her. The follower picks her up in front of her friends and even though they can not see the follower, they do see the effect of her being held off the ground, and Paul takes a wooden beach chair and smashes it against the invisible thing holding her up. It is a brilliant bit of horror cinematography.

This movie is visually stunning, filled with creepy music, and a slow burn with a suspenseful build toward climax. I know that I usually rail against a supernatural slow burn, but yes, even I can sometimes be wrong. I will admit that this surprised me, not because it is a good movie, but because it is a good horror movie with a great horror movie ending worthy of Stephen King ala Thinner.

The movie is available now on Netflix. It runs about 100 minutes long. If you are a hardcore horror fan like I am, you will be surprised at the lack of blood and gore. In fact, I think the only gory / disturbing part is three minutes into the movie with the dismembered body in the beginning at the beach. From there the creep factor sets in, builds, with jump scares sprinkled in to alleviate some of the suspense with a real kicker in the end. I am anxious to see what you think. Until next time, you awesome gorgeous and handsome Geeks. Take care of yourselves and each other.

This movie is a solid 4 out of 5 Grey Geeks

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